Epic things to do in New Orleans at night

After sundown in New Orleans, the city comes alive. This guide to the top things to do in New Orleans at night will ensure you don't miss a single beat.

Famous for its heady mix of jazz, voodoo, and delicious Creole food, New Orleans is a must-visit for night owls, culture vultures, and thrill-seekers. From the soul-stirring rhythms of jazz echoing through the French Quarter to the sultry beats of live music pouring out of historic clubs in the Marigny, New Orleans offers an intoxicating blend of music, culture, and history that bewitches the senses.

The city has countless experiences to offer. Whether you're looking for a sophisticated restaurant, a night of live music, or a deep dive into New Orleans' voodoo culture, here is a list of top things to do at night in New Orleans.

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1. Explore the birthplace of jazz

Jazz lovers flock to New Orleans every year, and with good reason: the city is known as the birthplace of jazz. Take a tour with a local expert, and discover lesser-known neighborhoods, the history of jazz, and a thriving contemporary jazz scene around every corner.

Hot tip:

Book in advance to catch a performance afterward at the legendary jazz venue Preservation Hall. Or kick back and see where the evening – and New Orleans' legendary element of surprise – takes you.

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2. Enjoy a nighttime trip to the Mardi Gras Museum

Fans of the spectacular costumes worn during the Mardi Gras carnival will want to include a visit to the Mardi Gras Museum, featuring a stunning collection of gowns, masks, jewels, and photographs. There are not many New Orleans museums that you can visit at night, but this one, attached to Arnaud's restaurant, is open until 10:00 PM and free.

Hot tip:

You don't have to buy a meal at Arnaud's restaurant to gain entry to the museum. However, it has been named one of New Orleans' top fine dining establishments, so is definitely worth a trip.

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3. Learn to make classic Louisiana cocktails in Frenchmen Street's hottest clubs

No trip to New Orleans is complete without exploring the famous French Quarter. This bar crawl is a particularly special introduction to Frenchmen Street's famous nightlife: gain VIP entry to the street's hottest clubs, learn about the Quarter, and learn to make a specialty cocktail. The street boasts live music venues spanning jazz, brass bands, Latin, funk, hip hop, and local DJs.

Hot tip:

After a night on the town, start the next morning (or afternoon!) with beignets, a delicious New Orleans doughnut. Café du Monde is particularly famous for them.

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4. Uncover New Orleans' darkest folklore

Embark on a spine-chilling tour of New Orleans' haunted past. As twilight falls, follow your guide through the shadowy alleys of the French Quarter, learning of vengeful spirits, bloodthirsty vampires, and powerful voodoo. Keep your eyes peeled for the famous LaLaurie Mansion, a notorious local hotspot for supernatural occurrences.

Hot tip:

The tour ends at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar, one of the city's oldest and most famous buildings, and a wonderful place to grab a drink.

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5. Take to the New Orleans night sky from a helicopter

Make your trip a truly unforgettable one with a private helicopter ride. New Orleans at night is famous for its neon lights; now you can experience them from a bird's eye view.

Hot tip:

Be sure to bring something warm: even those balmy Louisiana nights can feel chilly in the breeze of a chopper's blades!

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6. Steam down the Mississippi River at dusk

Hitch a ride on the riverboat queen, and roll with the river. The Steamboat Natchez is the city's only surviving authentic steamboat, and an evening cruise on her deck is accompanied by live jazz music.

There's a buffet dinner option available, allowing you to sample a range of Louisiana cuisine, which you can enjoy as you take in spectacular views of the city.

Hot tip:

The steamboat has four decks. Make sure you check out the top deck, as this is where the best views are to be found.

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7. Explore New Orleans' graveyards at night – if you dare

New Orleans has been called the City of the Dead – and when you count the cemeteries, it becomes clear why. The city has forty-two in total, and you can access some of them after dark on this spooky BYOB tour and learn about the city's unique burial practices. The cemeteries are beautifully ornate – but this tour is not for the faint of heart.

Hot tip:

Meet your guide at Voodoo Tavern and PoBoys, a highly rated and affordable place to grab some food before the tour.

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8. Enjoy an authentic Cajun Shrimp Boil and cabaret

Of the top things to do in New Orleans, experiencing an authentic Cajun shrimp boil and catching a cabaret show are two of the best. With Shrimp Boil Cabaret hosted by The Shrimp Boil King of New Orleans, you can do both in one evening. With a range of local delicacies and top-quality entertainment, this is a unique New Orleans experience.

Hot tip:

The Shrimp Boil Cabaret is a BYOB event – pick up a drink of your choice to bring.

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9. Explore New Orleans' wide range of local festivals

New Orleans is famous for its spectacular Mardi Gras celebrations – but the city has so much more to offer in terms of festivals. Avoid the Mardi Gras tourist stampede and check out one of the other festivals taking place in the city each year. Themed from Tennessee Williams to the Creole tomato festival, there's something for every taste.

Hot tip:

Plan your trip to New Orleans to coincide with the festival of your choice, and take advantage of all the other attractions the city has to offer during your visit.

FAQs

What are some of the top nighttime attractions in New Orleans?

The city is famous for cocktails, and it's believed the first mixed drink in history, the Sazerac, originated in New Orleans. You can enjoy one at the Roosevelt Hotel's famous Sazerac bar, which still boasts an original 1940s Art Deco interior, including beautiful murals by Paul Ninas.

What are the best areas for a nighttime stroll in New Orleans?

Try taking a stroll at dusk on the beautiful Moonwalk Promenade along the banks of the Mississippi River. You'll enjoy beautiful views, and you're a stone's throw from the city's best bars and bustling French Quarter.

What are the most popular night tours in New Orleans?

Take your pick from a range of fun bar crawls. Many of these include cocktails and entry to the city's vibrant music venues. There are also night ghost tours among the city's graveyards and hidden nooks and crannies for those who are feeling brave.

What are some fun activities to do with kids in New Orleans at night?

While New Orleans has a reputation as a great party city for adults, there are plenty of family-friendly activities after dark. Rock & Bowl is a bowling alley with live music. Wednesdays at the Square (at Lafayette) is a free 10-concert series taking place every Spring. Or get an ice cream at the historic Angelo Brocato Gelateria and take a relaxed evening stroll through the Mid-City neighborhood.

What are the best spots for a romantic night out in New Orleans?

The romantic ambiance at the Monteleone Hotel Carousel Bar makes it a popular choice for a special night out. Frequented by Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams, its circular revolving carousel bar, soft piano music, and beautiful décor guarantee a night to be remembered.